Posted on: December 25, 2008 2:41 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2008 2:43 pm
I figured I'd drop a Christmas themed blog to state my Knicks wishes for the rest of the season, since the Knicks are enjoying their break from NBA action and not giving me a lot of on the court things to talk about. You will notice a running theme here in my wishes, clarity. As in, I would love to get some on a lot of topics. The mystery of the Knicks makes them fun, but good teams don't have question marks and good future plans are well defined, so let's hope for the sake of the franchise that some of these topics gain some much needed clarity in the near term.
1) Eddy Curry gift wrapped under someone else's Christmas tree
If Donnie Walsh is giving away Eddy Curry for his GM Secret Santa gift this year and wrapping him up in David Lee wrapping paper, I hope the GM that has Donnie Walsh's name is kind enough to give Donnie some useful or expiring contracts in return. The much rumored Curry/Lee for Diaw/Barbosa deal is not the answer, although it is an improvement over the current situation of the Knicks heading into 2010. But I can't seem to get my egg nog flowing for the idea of Diaw in 2010. There has to be a better answer in the market. Curry is a problem that needs to be solved, but much like a homeowner with a bad loan, there are ways of solving it that set you up nicely, and their are ways of solving it that are marked improvements, but still a bad mortgage. I hope Donnie Walsh does not get himself out of one problem and into another, albeit smaller, problem. Walsh has impressed me so far, the hiring of D'Antoni was a stroke of genius and I believe will lure the top free agents in 2010, but the Knicks need to get into the best possible situation they can for that time, and Diaw on the books in 2010 is sub-optimal. Hopefully the Knicks can weasel a Marion deal out of Miami yet and get the expiring contracts and Curry off the books that they crave. David Lee is playing himself into a player that is worthy of accepting an Eddy Curry bad contract for, and since Lee is not in the Knicks plans long term, here is hoping we use him to our benefit.
2) A well defined direction for the season, and soon
So, are the Knicks going to compete for the playoffs or not? The highs and lows of the season are a staple of early Knicks seasons, but this team seems to have just enough to steal the 7 or 8 seed if the breaks fall. But will the breaks the Knicks will need come, or will this be a team that does nothing more then lose ping pong balls in the draft? My love for Ricky Rubio is clear as day, but at least with a push to the playoffs, the Knicks could have some 2009 backup plans come to the forefront. Steve Nash on the cheap after this season would be a great move, as I think the Knicks need one star player to believe in the promise of 2010 before LeBron becomes a free agent and sign with the Knicks on cap-friendly terms. Remember, Duhon is nothing more then an overachieving stopgap at the point guard until the Knicks get some superstars in the Garden, and then can find a superstar point guard to run the show. If it's in the draft or in free agency, the Knicks will let us know soon what direction their season will go, and based on how the season goes, that is how the Knicks will find their point guard of the future. So wins today increase the chances of Nash tomorrow, while losses today increase the chances of a rookie PG in the 2009 draft class. At least in my opinion
3) A hint on the direction of Nate Robinson
One thing is becoming clear lately, NBA players LOVE Nate Robinson. He is wildly popular with his peers, and it's not just token lip service. I fully expected Lee and Robinson to be on their last years in NY coming into this season as the Knicks look ahead to 2010, but maybe there is something to locking up little Nate long-term. He is actually an attractive piece for NBA superstars to play with. Couple this with the fact that Lee is being shopped more then Nate is these days, and I think Nate is a serious possibility for the Knicks future. Do I think you can win with Nate Robinson playing major minutes? I think he's a detriment to a winning team in a big role, his D can be suspect and he takes a lot of shots, but he is high energy. I'd rather he was gone in the future outside his intangibles, but if he can really be a serious selling point for big names in 2010, then I say whatever it takes to get a serious contender in 2010 is what should be going on now. If nothing else, you can do far worse then Nate Robinson playing minutes for your NBA team, that is for sure. Hopefully the Knicks actions or lack thereof will bring some clarity to the Robinson situation in the coming weeks.
4) A taste of the future, Chandler and Gallinari together on the court
Danilo "Old Country" Gallinari has suffered through back issues this season, leading many people to write him off already as a bust, which is wickedly unfair. Just ask Wilson Chandler, who sat the bench almost all of last season only to emerge this season as, well, as what? That is the part of the question here. Who is Wilson Chandler? Is he nothing more then a Channing Frye? Is he as good as Travis Outlaw (a very underrated player in my opinion)? Does he have the game to become a poor mans Danny Granger? Any of these situations is very possible. If you think the Granger name drop is out of line, think twice. If Chandler can just tack on another 6% or so from the arc, he could be a 18/5 small forward. And Gallinari should be a very interesting watch if he comes back this season, and if he comes back to a team without Lee, Danilo is going to get a real test. But these two are going to be around in 2010, and I expect the last part of this season and a lot of 2009-2010 to be all about these two, more so if/when Harrington opts out after this season.
5) Patrick Ewing Jr. in a Knicks uniform
Nothing more needs to be added. Sign the kid, he earned it in the preseason. This kid can learn more from D'Antoni, Rose, and Thomas then he can in the NBDL.
The Knicks are very enjoyable to watch this season, they are giving a ton of effort most every night and are learning how to win in the Association. They have battled injuries to Lee and Robinson and Gallinari and others. If this team stays healthy, then I know I will be getting a good show every time I throw the Knicks on TV, and maybe get a chance to see a bunch of overachieves make a push for the playoffs. With a bad injury, this Knicks team will sitting ducks for the rest of the NBA. Above all else this season, I'd like to see my crew have a punchers chance the rest of the year.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Posted on: December 15, 2008 1:40 am
Edited on: December 15, 2008 1:43 am
Well, the most telling exam of the Knicks early schedule is almost over, and the Knicks are coming very close to shocking all us long-suffering Knicks fans and scoring a solid B. As I have previously mentioned, the Knicks had to get out of the first 4 games of this road trip at 3-1 to get to .500 before they play the Lakers Tuesday. After a loss in the opening road game to Chicago in a game the Knicks could have won and maybe should have won, prospects looked bleak. But after two straight ROAD wins (road cannot be emphasized enough when you have seen the Knicks lose so many road games in the last 7 years), the Knicks just have to beat Phoenix on Monday, and I will declare this trip a success. The Knicks are rounding into form, Harrington is playing like a beast, the defense is playing pretty well at times, and the Knicks actually are looking like a 7 or 8 seed in the East.
Review: New York Knicks 121-109 Sacramento Kings- What a dominant first quarter! The Knicks jumped all over the Kings on the glass, from the arc, and with great ball movement. If I remember right the Knicks had a 13-2 rebounding advantage after 1 quarter to go with their 43-21 lead. I hinted that I expected the Knicks to actually win the rebounding battle when I picked the Knicks to beat the Kings as an underdog in my last blog, and that was the key to a Knicks rout. It was a laugher after that dominant 1st quarter, and a mighty fine one at that. I hope you enjoyed it Knicks fans, I don't know how often that Jeffries is going to drive down the lane for a thunderous dunk or Jerome James is going to get 2 points and a steal (If you can call it a steal, more like the ball found his hands and stuck).
- Al Harrington, what can you say? 33 points with 6 boards, 5 threes, and 4 dimes. The Kings cut the New York rout to 12 late in the 3rd, but Harrington dropped in a few big shots in a row and the game was never again in any sort of question. Let the record show that I was one of the first on the Al Harrington as an Eastern Conference All-Star train, because that thing is about to start getting crowded with people, and I want my seat in the first class section.
- Lee looked great after leaving the Nets game, dropping 17 points with 19 boards, and Nate shot over 50% on 15 shots to add 19 points. Duhon and Chandler struggled all game, Duhon only ending with 5 dimes and 10 points and Chandler having a bad day from the field, but it was great to see the Knicks win without it's emerging point guard and small forward doing much. Hopefully both with have a better game on Monday, both will be vital to the Knicks success against Phoenix.
Preview: New York Knicks (+8.5) at Phoenix Suns, Monday 9:00 pm ESTD'Antoni returns to Phoenix. Nothing more needs to be said, but I still will add a bit. Nash's reaction to D'Antoni's return will be telling to those of you in my camp that think that the Knicks possible ten million in cap room if/when Harrington opts out after this season could be a prelude to Nash wearing the Orange and Blue. Shaq is questionable with his family issues last I heard. And it will interesting to see how Stat matches up with Lee, Amare has such a huge talent advantage, but Lee has tons more heart then Amare does. If Amare doesn't come to play (and this happens a lot, he's on my fantasy team so I know all too well hahaha), the Knicks could have some success working inside/outside and off the pick and roll. J-Rich will be in line for a monster game, he likes to kill the Knicks. Shutting him down will be key. Chandler will get a test from the cagey vet Hill. It should be a fun one, but it could get ugly if the Suns all show up and lock down the glass.
Knicks-centric stats match-up:Again: Since the Knicks are a team that runs the D'Antoni offense, posting typical team offensive/defensive stats is pretty silly. I will use offensive and defensive efficiency, a.k.a. how many points a team scores and allows per 100 possessions. Hopefully this will give people a better idea on how teams will stack up against the unique style the Knicks offer.
Knicks on offense:
Knicks offensive efficiency: 103.8 points/100 (17th in the NBA)
Suns defensive efficiency: 106.8 points/100 (24th in the NBA)
Knicks on defense:
Suns offensive efficiency: 107.9 points/100 (4th in the NBA)
Knicks defensive efficiency: 105.8 points/100 (23rd in the NBA)
Knicks fantasy focus (attempting to appear every Monday, made for weekly lineup roto players):Knicks weekly schedule: (4 games) at Phx, at LAL, Mil, at Bos
Knicks start of the week: Wilson Chandler - Chandler is owned in 85 percent of CBS leagues but started in only 56 percent. On a 4 game week where the Knicks play two superstar teams, Chandler's mid-range game is the Knicks best chance to get some production against the NBA elite. Chandler looks for his own shot and knows how to score, and he can get you a fair amount of boards from the 3 spot. I start Chandler every week, but if you own him, this is not a week to be scared of his tough 4 game slate, he will take his shots and be productive.
Predicted weekly stat line: 17 ppg, 1.25 3's per game, 6 rpg, 3apg, 1spg, 1bpg, average shooting % and ++ FT% (Chandler is about 85% from the line since opening night, a great trait from your 3)
Knicks sit of the week: Nate Robinson if you have better options. You might not have a choice but to start all your Knicks this week, but if you got options outside Nate, consider them. Robinson has had average to poor games so far this season vs. Milwaukee and Boston, hitting few 3's, getting few dimes, and struggling with his shot %. Nate did grab 10 boards vs. Milwaukee last time out, but that is not to be expected. LA will be a very tough game for Nate as well, so don't feel like you just can't sit Nate this week, you can if you have a better option. He is more of a #4 guard this week in fantasy then his usual #3 status.
Knicks cut of the week: Tim Thomas. I did. He's just too streaky in his minutes and production. He will anger you by scoring 6 points with 2 boards when you start him and getting 24 and 10 when you don't. Avoid the headache!
Psst! Hey Donnie Walsh!This is the section where I usually will take the Knicks next opponent and suggest a legal NBA trade that is feasible for both teams and achieves the Knicks primary objectives moving forward, which are to move Eddy Curry, move Jared Jeffries, or maybe get something for Marbury. Phoenix is wheeling and dealing, but they have a team with very few expendable contracts right now. Everyone on Phoenix is either getting paid or not getting paid, and the only exception, Barbosa, is on a 3 year deal, usually something the Knicks don't want. However...
Knicks get: Leandro Barbosa ($6.1 million/3 years), Grant Hill (2 million/1 year)
Suns get: Jared Jeffries ($6 million/3 years), Nate Robinson (2 million/1 year)
Might just work. Right now the Knicks just have Curry and Jeffries on the books for 2010 for sure, and an option on Chandler and Danilo they will surly exercise. Ideally the Knicks would use Nate and maybe Lee to move Jeffries or Curry for an expiring contract to add to the 2010 cap space. But what if the Knicks just swap out Jeffries bad 2010 contract for Barbosa's good contract? Barbosa could help the Knicks by playing a solid 2, knowing D'Antoni's system, and spelling Duhon at the point, something the Knicks lack. Grant Hill could be a great mentor to Chandler. The Suns get Jared Jeffries, who is tall and plays D, and Nate Robinson, who could be part of the Suns future after Nash leaves. I think if you told Suns fans they could get rid of Barbosa, who is pretty useless as a Sub these days now that Jason Richardson is in town, and get a young player like Nate Robinson, they would be happy with the deal. And Barbosa would help the Knicks win now, and with enough playing time and shots, could easily be dealt for the same cap space that the Knicks would have dealt Jeffries for, or even kept and be considered a player that someone like a LeBron would want to play with. It's a pretty decent deal for both sides, and I for one would love for Chandler to get 60 games to learn from Grant Hill, he is a big part of the Knicks future and anything to help his progress, the better.
Amare (and Shaq if he plays) will decide this game. We know Nash will cut Duhon up, get some clean looks, and create clean looks for Richardson. We know the Knicks will probably get a good game out of Harrington and Chandler and Tim Thomas. But if Lee can match Amare down low, the Knicks will be in it late, and maybe with a lead. I have said a few times this year that I think the Suns are an awful team. They have a good offense and no D, but they don't play to their strengths, and I feel their record is a lot of smoke and mirrors. Amare isn't very dominant at times, and if Lee can start off frustrating Amare, the Knicks could dominate the paint on the inside. This is a very winnable game for the Knicks, and the Suns are still getting used to a new rotation, which doesn't help. I think it will be close, and I want to say the Knicks win, but I know this is New York on the road for the 4th straight game. I have to see this win to believe it, and previous history with New York forces my hand and I have to predict...
Suns 112-Knicks 107 (season record: 5-1 straight up, 3-3 ATS)
Thanks for reading
Posted on: December 12, 2008 5:19 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2008 1:45 am
After battling Chicago down to the wire earlier in the week on the road and letting a winnable game slip away (Hey Derrick Rose, wish you would have closed out that last game at Memphis like you did my Knicks! Hey I'm a Memphis Tigers fan, I have to throw a bitter shot here.), the Knicks gave every impression that they would continue their recent trends of not having the energy to compete on the second nights of back to backs and struggling on the road. New Jersey blitzed New York and was up 15 before you knew what happened. Then David Lee got hurt. And we all know New Jersey has had the Knicks number in recent years. So naturally...
Review: New York Knicks 121-109 New Jersey Nets
Oh snap! Knicks win an Atlantic road game for the first time in what feels like 5 years without Nate Robinson or much from Lee. Al Harrington is a beast, and he looks to be rounding into form better then anyone expected. We all know how rusty Harrington looked vs. the Cavs in his first game back. Since then all Harrington has done is drop 25 or more 5 out of 8 games, hit at least 2 threes in every game, and grab an average of something like 8 boards with only 2.5 turnovers a game in the fast paced Knicks style. Harrington dropped 39 on the Nets, and he is taking over the role of Randolph AND Crawford to the best of his ability. Al Harrington is going to be an even BIGGER part of the Knicks O if Lee is out for a game or two, he may run the pick and roll play that leads to Lee's easy buckets. Can Harrington actually make the Eastern Conference All Star team???